10
Feb
08

Super Bowl XLII Preview

Two weeks of hype have seared the storylines into our collective minds. The Patriots are trying to be the first team to go 19-0. Eli Manning is trying to win the Super Bowl the year after his brother did. He wants to finally break free of the Peyton’s little brother introduction at cocktail parties and cement his status as one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Brady is trying to put an end to the Montana or Brady or Unitas talk as the best ever(as seen on ESPN.com this week), while his coach Bill Belicheck is trying to  leapfrog such luminaries as Chuck Noll(4 super bowl wins), Bill Walsh, Tom Landry, Joe Gibbs and Don Shula(all with 3 super bowl wins) as the best NFL coach in history, not named Lombardi.
Even Michael Strahan and Amani Toomer make it into the list of great storylines because theirs is one equal parts familiar and feel-good. Two veterans who made the Super Bowl in their prime during the 2000 season, only to be run off the field by the Ravens, but who now have been given another chance. With the time left in their careers disappearing like sand in an hourglass they can end their careers, however improbable, in storybook fashion.
But the story that should be talked about more is that of the disappearing Super Bowl contender. Consider the previous five super bowl losers. The Bears lost last year, before that it was the Seahawks, and the Eagles, Panthers, and Raiders. Each team came in riding momentum and each were teams who exceeded expectations. The Eagles are really the only team that bucks the trend in some ways. The Eagles were a contender year in and year out but the story from there is the same. The Super Bowl loss didn’t foreshadow more super bowl appearances for these runner-ups, just more losses.
I feel the need to mention this for a couple of reasons, neither of which being that I consider a Giants loss to be a mere formality. On the contrary I think they can win and I am rooting for them. But the facts are the facts. The Patriots are heavily favored. So while the Giants should be basking in the historic chance to become the most loved team in franchise history and maybe the most popular Super Bowl winner in decades, the front office should look at the teams above as cautionary tales of how euphoria and pride don’t translate into winning for seasons to come.
Even more importantly the Giants should all have been forced to watch a super bowl from six years ago. It was the one before the five I looked at above and featured a team affectionately known as the Greatest Show on Turf. They had Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and a young Tory Holt. The Super Bowl was going to be their chance to put on a show for the entire country, and with Super Bowl viewership being what it is, the entire world. Except there was one problem. No one told their upstart opponents about the plans. The St. Louis Rams lost that game 20-17 to the New England Patriots and it was the Patriots who made winning a habit, while the Rams players tried vehemently to sell Greatest Show on Turf tees on ebay.
The Giants need to realize that after this game you can go one of two ways; unforgettable or forgotten.

Super Bowl XLII Prediction: Patriots 28, Giants 24
Super Bowl XLIII Prediction: Giants 35, Colts 28

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